Making routines work

I recently received a ‘My Day’ chart from the lovely Sarah at Little Billies. The personalised A4 magnetic chart now lives on the front of our fridge.

It is divided into three sections – morning, afternoon and evening and comes complete with a set of 48 activity magnets. There is a magnet for everything I could possibly think of, including the regular routine items like meals, naptime, bathtime, and bedtime, and then a whole range of additional activities suitable to time spent at home (for example, art/craft, free play, and outside play) or time out and about (playgroup, shopping, library, to name just a few).

Each morning, I choose and then Immy helps me to put up the magnets representing the day’s activities. We add each one in order and talk about what we will do and/or who we will see. I love the suggestion that came in the chart’s instruction kit, that the same activity magnet start and end each section of the day, for example, our morning always starts with breakfast and ends with lunchtime. This helps to distinguish morning from afternoon and afternoon from evening.

In my experiences teaching, and as a Mum, time and again I have seen children respond well to a known routine. Not necessarily an inflexible, ‘set in stone’ or ‘watching the clock’ approach but knowing what to expect from the day and knowing what comes next, helps children to know what behaviour is expected of them.

As Immy is still little and loves playing with magnets (thanks to the magnet toys she has on our fridge and the myriad of colourful magnets she adores playing with on her grandma’s fridge), I leave the chart just out of her reach but draw her attention to it regularly throughout the day. I look forward to the day, when she is a little older, where she can have the chart down at her level and choose the magnets that represent our plans for the day independently.

About Little Billies

My name is Sarah, I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children! Little Billies first started out with Reward Charts when my son was just a little over 18 months old. I had read a few parenting books that suggested using a Reward Chart to positively reinforce behaviours. I couldn’t believe that there was no explanation of how to make a Reward Chart, nor was there a source of where to buy one. So I started the search. I found a few star sticker charts, but they weren’t exactly what I was after. I wanted a chart that praised my son not only for life skills, but also for heart attitudes. So I decided to draw up my own stickers to stick on a laminated chart. I soon found that peeling off of the stickers in order to re-start the chart to be cumbersome, plus the fiddling around of printing more stickers would often put the chart into stop mode! That’s when I came up with magnets. So easy to apply, easy to remove and reusable time and time again. The Little Billies 1st Reward Chart was then created.

As my son grew older (around 2.5 years old) the Routine Charts were developed. My son has never coped really well with change, he likes routine. So I mapped out our days in picture form, however as you all know it isn’t humanly possible to have all the days take the same path. I decided that the same magnet approach would work and the My Day Chart was made. Each day my son and I could now map out our day, the expectations of the day were clear and there was less resistance from him as we changed activities – it worked! I created the My Day Chart first thinking that it would be helpful for my son but the reality was, that it was actually really helpful for me. The day was planned and there was less idle time for him to wander around the house and I was more organized and got more chores done around the house as well as spending quality time with both of my children.

I have loads of ideas still yet to come, and I am sure there will be even more to add to the to-do list as my children get older and we face new challenges together.

Visit Little Billies for Routine Charts, Visual Schedules and Reward Charts, tools to make your parenting journey easier!

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  1. Michael sent me a link for something similar the other week, these are free down-loadable ones;

  2. SquiggleMum says:

    We have a Little Billies evening chart, which helps my three year old deal with the trickiest time of day (late arvo -> bedtime). I'm a big fan of routine. I think all teachers are…

  3. katef - says:

    Funnily enough I have never been that into an at home routine. We have a definite rhythm to our days but before kinder and lots of other outside of the house events entered our lives we pretty much went with the flow.

    Now days tho… with kinder and ballet and commitments I've been meaning to make one of these for my girls because I think even if you are not into a daily routine a visual reminder of up coming events can really help them grasp the whole time concept and in turn help them deal with the changes etc.

    I really need to get off my bum and do this don't I.. especially with school next year! Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Speechies love routine charts/ visual schedules/whatchamacallist ;) Like I tell parents, I'm lost without my diary, how does the child feel? :p

    I'm so going to set one up when I have kids myself, m,y partner and I already track almost obsessively in writing.

    The little billies ones are cute! I love that they're going "mainstream"!

  5. Those are a great idea–and the magnets make it so much more flexible per family and per day. I love the idea of setting it up together so that kids know what to expect from the day!

  6. Raising a Happy Child says:

    My husband made a similar chart himself for our daughter – also magnetic. Since she is a little older, it's not a day chart, but a week chart with sections for morning and afternoon. We do some week planning together and she loves to put her magnets on the chart. I think it helps her to get a better idea of time duration and, of course, she is also learning days of the week.

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